[extropy-chat] Maths ability

Adrian Tymes wingcat at pacbell.net
Sat Mar 4 20:13:37 UTC 2006

--- Lee Corbin <lcorbin at tsoft.com> wrote:
> Damn right.  Me, every since I was a little kid, I had a "math line"
> that quickly, visually, and easily came to me that told me the answer
> to many problems.  See "The Math Gene" by Keith Devlin.

I've had this too - but I've made a point of trying to decipher how it
works, so I can apply it to any areas where I have trouble.  I've only
partially succeeded.

> Adrian writes
> > A personal anecdote: for most of my K-12 years, I never understood
> why
> > high grades were at all important...
> Yeah?  Well, I *knew* Adrian when he was 13 (he's forgotten it).
> Now I like teaching math to small groups of really smart kids. When I
> interviewed Adrian, he was so far ahead of anyone else I was working
> with that I never invited him back. It was simply effortless for him
> to manipulate great gobs of algebra with glee.

...I was trying to be humble about that.  ^_^;

> But a lot of tricks were intuitively obvious to you when you were 13.

This is true.  But now that I am 31, I know more about how they work.
Besides, it doesn't change the fact that it is, sometimes, a bunch of
tricks - which can be consciously learned if someone does not already
know them subconsciously, until they become habit (and thus,

> You got really good math genes at least from your dad LeRoy (who was
> an acquaintance of mine).

La Roy, actually.  And I'm not so sure that so much of the stuff was
genetic as the training I got (which, granted, could also be considered
inherited).  By "training" I'm including play, non-school education,
and similar things.

> > Of course, that depends on where exactly you draw the line
> > between "tricks" and true understanding.  Perhaps it might
> > be more accurate to say, sometimes it seems like nothing
> > more than a collection of tricks.
> With emphasis on *seems*, of course.

"Sufficient quantity often has a quality all its own."

> Also, everyone keep in mind that there is of course a *correlation*
> between IQ and math ability, or chess ability (which I have studied
> all my life, some student of mine were masters and grandmasters).
> These *talents* are greatly helped by high IQ, but they're something
> definitely extra.

Perhaps high IQ - especially the genetic component - makes it easier to
pick up these talents, so of course these talents would be more often
found among the high IQs.  But it does not appear to be an absolute
barrier towards learning those abilities.

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